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Running vs. Cycling(8 posts)

Running vs. CyclingFastFred
Aug 11, 2003 6:07 PM
Just something I've been wondering about lately...I think I'm a pretty good cyclist. I ride about 4-5 days a week, between 25-60 miles a day, average speed around 20mph, but I can only run for VERY short distances before I get very winded. Why is this so? What are the physiological differences between running and cycling?
Try spinning fasterJervis
Aug 11, 2003 6:20 PM
What kind of cadence are you pushing? I don't have cadence on my computer, so I can't give you the exact rpms, but the faster you spin, the more of cardiovascular workout you will get. Getting your legs moving faster moves the blood faster and causes the heart to work harder. This is what your body needs to improve lung efficiency. If you push a high gear all the time, your legs will get a good muscular workout, but you need more (and faster) motion to give your heart a workout. Try doing intervals. Warm up for 5-10 miles, then spin faster than normal for five or so miles, but make sure you keep good form when you crank up the rpms (meaning don't try and spin so fast you bounce on your saddle). After then spin, slow the cadence down until you feel you're back up to snuff. Then ride how you normaly do to get a good leg workout. You can go back and forth like this as long as your body, or ride distance, will allow. Another thing you might try is alternating running and cycling. You say you ride 4-5 times a week, maybe replace one (or even *gasp!* two) of those rides with a good solid run of at least 2 miles. I noticed the same thing after I stopped running for a while, you just have to make a concious effort to run up your rpms. Hope that helps

re: Running vs. Cyclingelcameron
Aug 11, 2003 7:08 PM
Sounds like you're running too fast. It is easy to do if you are in good cycling shape, as you are.

Monitor your heart rate, and keep it under 70%, or at a level where you can talk without gasping for air.

Do not worry if you are running super slow, you will improve very rapidly as you already have a base to work from.

Last suggestion: run the same course several times a week for a while. This will allow your mind to relax and as a result you will become more relaxed physically. It is much easier to run a familiar course than a new one.

It takes longer to improve on the run than it does on the bike. Best of luck.
re: Running vs. CyclingTWD
Aug 11, 2003 7:25 PM
Face it, some of us just weren't meant to be runners.

When you say you can only very short distances, how far do you mean? And how fast are you trying to run? Set reasonable expectations, you're not going to go out and run a marathon or 5 minute mile on cycling fitness.

You use your upper body alot more when you run, so that will tax your cardio system in a different way. I'd say if you're reasonable fit on the bike, which it sounds like you are, then your cardio shouldn't be a huge limiting factor when you run.

I'm a heck of a lot better on the bike than I could ever even dream of being running. I do run a little bit in the fall to get ready for cyclocross racing and on occaision in the winter to save wear and tear on my bike. I have found that running works your leg muscles a lot differently than cycling. My cardiovascular system usually isn't the problem, it allows me to run faster and farther than my leg muscles can tolerate until they adjust to running again. The first couple times I run in the fall, my legs will tighten up and get really sore for days.

I'd classify myself as a decent cyclist and pathetically lousy runner. My first few runs in the fall will be 2-3 miles at a 8-10 minute mile pace. Probably pretty lousy for a runner, but hey, I'm not a runner.

By this time of year 6 to 7 hour rides are no big deal, but don't think I've run over an hour without stopping in my life.
cycling is more efficientdr hoo
Aug 12, 2003 7:29 AM
Cycling is the most efficient form of transportation ever invented, so clearly you use more energy running. Add in the fact that you can't coast for a second and it is easy to blow up running even when in good cycling shape.

Part is also technique. I once went on a mtb ride with a woman who had run marathons, and she was hurting after a couple of hours while I was relatively fresh. Why? Technique. I doubt I could run a mile without collapsing.

A good bit of advice on running technique is to take short strides and concentrate on keeping your head level. Quick and short strides might look goofy, but it works far better for most people than long loping strides. Head level is the sign of an efficient runner, just as smooth spin and quiet upper body is the sign of an efficient cyclist.

The real question is why you would WANT to run? Cyclists smile all the time, but runner never smile, and mostly look miserable. I don't understand it, but to each his own.
Running uses leg muscles differentlyCoot72
Aug 12, 2003 8:43 AM
The main difference between running and cycling is that cycling does not use the leg muscles in eccentric motion, meaning putting tension on the muscles while the muscle gets longer. Imagine your leg as it strikes the ground. The quad (for instance) lengthens as the foot moves from front to back. Cycling uses the quad in the other direction. The quad is loaded while it contracts. This is all a bit idealized, but essentially why cyclists have a hard time running.

Just go slow--10 min miles or so and let the muscles adapt over several weeks and don't run on back to back days. After a while your muscles will get stronger and you'll be able to take advantage of your aerobic fitness. Watch the knees! Slow and steady wins the race.

It'll come soonpitt83
Aug 12, 2003 8:59 AM
I started this spring and have gotten progressively stronger. I started wanting to shock my metabolism (didn't work; I just eat more) and because I was running singletrack in MTB races and thought it could help there (It has).

I started with 2 1/2 miles and have worked up to 6 as my longest run. I run 2X weekly and am turning 7:30 for 4 miles now. Not bad considering.

The pain diminishes after the first few times and the HR will calm down once you get used to fully weight bearing cardio exercise.
re: Running vs. Cyclingtricyclist
Aug 12, 2003 10:15 AM
Good News! Both the cycling and the running should help eachother. I ride 80-100 miles per week, and run close to 20 miles per week. The conditioning on my cardio system I get from running helps tremendously when I'm pulling a fast paceline. My cycling has helped increase my overall endurance and speed while running. (Not to mention I have been less prone to injury since doing both) You should slow down on your runs and try not to run after a hard day of cycling.